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|Index||11 reviews in total|
MASTER PLAN: convert people into sexless fishmen, as prep for
underwater kingdom and so on. Described as a Saturday matinée treat,
this has elements of a James Bond thriller combined with Japanese
Sci-fi of the sixties. Indeed, this begins as a typical Bondian teaser
on a submarine, with the Navy testing a new kind of torpedo. Although
it's a Japanese production, most of the cast is Caucasian, with the
notable exception of Sonny Chiba. He and cute blonde Peggy Neal play a
couple of intrepid journalists who go scuba diving in the wrong area.
They're scared off by a fishman, a poor cousin of "The Creature From
the Black Lagoon," but lose the photographic evidence. Hence, being
reporters, they go back and soon venture into the wrong caves, where
there are now a lot of fishmen. It's all just a prelude to the reveal
of an undersea installation (3,000 feet below!) headed by a mad
scientist who has perfected the 'processed man' formula & procedure -
the method by which people are turned into fish people (or, 'water
cyborgs,' as the gloating mad doc calls them).
Most of this is harmless fun, with most of the actors, perhaps due to poor dubbing, seriously overacting; a lot of the dialog is shouted when they should be speaking in a normal manner. This is especially evident with the two navy commanders, who always seem way over excitable. The mad scientist is strictly out of the 'sneering, cackling school' of nutty villains. The actress Neal also tends to scream or whimper during most of her scenes. Of course, when we get to that eerie conversion process, which is demonstrated slowly to the reporters before they themselves are victimized by it, one can scarcely blame her. This is where it gets a little creepy, another example of the Japanese preoccupation with mutating the human body in film. The pace is a little slow in the first half, especially with all the underwater scenes, but there's lot of action towards the climax, with the Navy submarine attacking and all hell breaking loose as the fishmen go out of control. The FX are low budget and the fishmen suits are not very convincing. Chiba makes a pretty good leading man here, a full 8 years before his famous "Street Fighter" role, though don't expect the same fighting ability from him here. Hero:6 Villains:5 Femme:5 Henchmen:4 Fights:5 Stunts/Chases:5 Gadgets:5 Machines:6 Locations:5 Pace:5 overall:5
1966's "Terror Beneath the Sea" is a forgotten sci-fi from Japan, less surprising once you learn it's from neither Godzilla's Toho, or Gamera's Daiei. It's actually a Toei production, one of three that made it to American shores, with "Magic Serpent" and "The Green Slime" better remembered. Apart from future martial arts star Sonny Chiba, we have teenage blonde Peggy Neal, who went on to star in Shochiku's "The X from Outer Space," who promptly disappeared from the scene. The Gill Man costumes are initially intriguing, but become obvious through repetition, though the prospect of human beings being transformed into amphibian cyborgs manages to produce some effective moments. Director Hajime Sato really struck paydirt with his final film, 1968's "Goke Body Snatcher from Hell" (also from Shochiku), as nightmarish a combination of horror and sci-fi as any made in Japan. "Terror Beneath the Sea" was frequently seen on television through the late 70s (not much since), airing three times on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater: Sept 14 1974 (followed by 1955's "King Dinosaur"), Mar 6 1976 (following 1970's "The Beast in the Cellar"), and Nov 25 1978 (following 1960's "Gorgo").
Sadly, before Sonny Chiba made the wonderful martial arts films that
made him so famous throughout the world, he starred in a bazillion
films--including some real turkeys like INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN (in
the bottom 100 films on IMDb). Despite a fairly respectable current
score of 5.5 on IMDb, TERROR BENEATH THE SEA is also one of these early
bad films. Now it isn't nearly as terrible as INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE
MEN (but what is?!), it's still mighty bad and a film only for kids and
The film involves Chiba and a cast of Westerners and Japanese investigating some strange creatures in the ocean. They look like a poor man's version of the Creature from CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON--rubber body suits painted silver with putty-like faces. It turns out that they are the creation of a mad megalomaniac (Dr. Moore) who has learned to change humans into practically anything he'd like. Using a mind control device, these cheesy monsters do his bidding. And where does this crazed genius live? Yep, 3000 feet under the ocean--and it's up to Chiba and the US Navy to stop this crazy and his freaky friends. They never really explain how the subs are able to go that deep and Chiba's stupid red-headed sidekick wants to swim from there to the surface (they'd be crushed like grapes by the pressure almost immediately). Maybe originally they mean 300 feet and it was mis-dubbed!
The film looks very Japanese when it comes to the underwater battles and sub. There are lots of fires and explosions(!) under water and much of it looks really, really cheap--like they were created by someone who built the cities for the Godzilla films. Oddly, despite these silly special effects, some of the underwater diving scenes were very well done and filmed well and the color throughout the film was lovely--very vivid and clean. The costumes also aren't bad (other than the silver-suited freaks).
The film is entertaining silliness that bad movie fans and kids will like, but I can't imagine anyone else sitting through this odd film. Well,...at least it IS different!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When two reporters investigate the strange occurrences during a Navy
submarine test, they become the prisoners of a strange underwater race
of beings. They are taken to a secret laboratory where they discover a
mad scientist who is using these creatures in his plot to take over the
world. The reporters must free themselves and save the world.
The movie stars a very young Sonny Chiba as one of the reporters. While he is a far cry from the butt-kicking machine he would later become, his screen presence is undeniable. The other reporter is played by Peggy Neal. God, is there a more annoying woman on the planet. The seaweed in the movie had more talent.
While the movie features a good number of kitschy moments (the monsters being the prime example), overall it's far too slow for me to completely endorse. There are too many scenes of the two reporters swimming underwater or investigating the secret lab where literally nothing happens. The pair just wander around doing nothing. A little more action would have made things much better.
YOU, thinking of Japanese monster horror, will likely picture either
Godzilla or some kind of bodily mutilation, likely involving lots of
tentacles (both fair).
YOU probably think you've seen it all.
But YOU have yet to experience the mid-point somewhere in between: a thrilling, chilling, underwater adventure so sixties it's hip! It's now! And how! Behold: the delightfully nostalgic, charming murk that is... TERROR BENEATH THE SEA!
(bum bum buuuuummm!!!)
SHRIEK in terror,as you attempt to uncover the (not so mystifying) mystery of the strange marine sightings interrupting underwater torpedo tests!
CRINGE at the gloriously wooden overacting, especially the nearly unbearably whiny Peggy Neal, and one navy sergeant bearing an uncanny resemblance to Bradley Cooper!
GROOVE to the funky James Bond vibe of the underwater base, matching uniformed minions, and cackling megalomaniac foe, all given a swingin' sizzle by the slam-banging jazzy adore!
GASP at the strange, eerie underwater creatures - like the Creature of the Black Lagoon with his face caught in a vice! Then HIDE YOUR EYES from the stop motion transformations creating the abominations (see? We promised bodily mutilation!)...which would likely be more memorably grotesque with a higher budget, so the actors weren't left looking like they have shredded condoms all over their faces.
PUZZLE at the fish-men being referred to as cyborgs, and how their actions are controlled by an outrageously 60s wall dial. But don't sweat the details - the film sure doesn't.
CHEER as dashing martial arts star Sonny Chiba finally (finally!) gets to unleash some whoop-ass in a fantastically campy explosive finale, after spending too much of the movie frowning and being imprisoned - even if he does more shooting than martial arts-ing (boo).
You ask yourself: are your nerves (or attention span) up for the spectacle, the pizazz, of this frightfully fun creature feature?? Well, there's only one way to find out. Take the plunge with Sonny and Peggy. Steel your nerves. And uncover the outrageous odyssey that is... TERROR BENEATH THE SEA!
Okay Japanese rubber suit/monster flick. Mad scientist plans to rule the world with his fishmen/water cyborgs from his underwater base. Sonny Chiba in an early role is the hero and American Peggy Neal plays the girl in trouble. Best viewed late at night with Attack of the Mushroom People.
This is no CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, but I had extremely low
expectations going in. The movie was a little better than I
anticipated, but not by much.
The film concerns two journalists who realize there is something amiss going on in the waters off of Japan when they view an informational film done by the military and see something that they shouldn't. When they try to investigate, they unwillingly become part of a mad scientist's master plan to build and rule an underwater kingdom.
There are a variety of actors in TERROR BENEATH THE SEA, both Japanese and non-Japanese. Most of the film is dubbed which can always lend itself to overacting a bit - there is no exception here. I also found that the roles were somewhat one dimensional - the mad scientist was the stereotypical mad scientist (complete with dark sunglasses), the lead female was the stereotypical woman from the 60's (outside of having a job) who looked to her man to save her and whined and cried a lot, the military guys were as formal as you would expect, etc. The monsters were fairly well done for the time and not as bad as some others I've seen but their costumes were obviously cheaply made. Interestingly, throughout most of the film they are programmed to act in a certain way, but towards the end, they have a mind of their own.
The plot line is rather slow and the special effects were really saved for the end of the film. There are lots of underwater explosions that were actually pretty well done for the time although some other reviewers would disagree. The other effects were really chintzy though. The soundtrack was the typical "mod" type common in the 1960's.
This is really a movie for either kids or fans of old Japanese monster movies. I wouldn't be able to recommend it to a horror fan.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A rating of three stars makes it appear that I thought this movie
sucked...well, it sucked, but for a bad movie, it was pretty good.
"Terror" is a weird mix. It has a Japanese director, but a mostly American cast. It has "Creature From The Black Lagoon" fish-men; it's got a Bond style underwater base; it's got a gleefully sneering Kevin Spacey lookalike (also channeling rent-a-center Blofeld); it's got Sonny Chiba (before his breakthrough as a martial arts star); it's got that weird Japanese preoccupation with body mutation; it's got definite S-and-M vibrations at times; it's got an attractive American actress who screams and whines seemingly every 10 seconds, but looks pretty good when she does it. Oh yes, and it's got a couple of American naval guys who overact something fierce...but they also look pretty good when they do it (they're handsome square- jawed hero types). And there's very repetitive but somehow hypnotic vibraphone and electronics- based soundtrack that actually works to reinforce the idea that most of this is taking place underwater.
And in spite of all this, "Terror" is really slow, static and boring for the first 2/3rds of the movie. Chiba has a lot of screen presence,but his character is mostly a helpless pawn of the forces that have captured him and his girlfriend (remember what I said aboutthe S-and-M feel of some parts of the movie?)
Things pick up a little towards the end when the American submarine finally attacks and things start blowing up...but things are still mostly flat and by-the-numbers, and the damage to your patience has been done. (I suppose some people would feel instead that their patience through the draggy, over-long early scenes has finally been rewarded).
So is this a good film? Ummm...no. But Peggy Neal looked good in a scuba outfit and Sonny Chiba showed some of the spark that would make him famous later and a lot of people obviously worked pretty hard (if without any inspiration) to make this at least a watchable film.
One thumb halfway up. Sort of.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THIS MIGHT CONTAIN SPOILERS
even when this little movie has not much
of a narrative to give away.
Now, I've seen quite some rubber-suit monster, creature from wherever and suchlike, but man, this one really is boring. It even succeeds in being so bad that it's "good" which makes most of these movies fun to watch. But "The Terror beneath the Sea" lacks any suspense, storytelling devices or actors-not-being-a-cardboard figure.
The story is rather cheap, maybe even for a flick like this one, but hey, this would have not made the movie bad as such most old Sci-Fi flicks and films like this have a very bad narrative and still are entertaining. The "story" of this movie has been written down by some other guys here all over the page, so I won't sum it up again, but rather question some points Apart from dragging on without building up any suspense or anything story-like beyond "now this is a master plan to conquer the world that did not work in some other 30+ movies they surely botch this one", the characters are all totally stupid (Chiba's Ken being the only one hardly managing to be likable). Like the bad guy, I forgot his name, is very evil indeed. Not only does he wear menacing sun-glasses he also sneers all the time, gives us some throaty laughter and comes over with the usual wanna-be World Dominator one-liners. I mean come on, sun-glasses in an underwater city? Where they afraid to make the movie to cheese if they would have given him a cool mask like Dr. Doom from 10,000 fathoms? Anyway, he is a total nut-case in fact, he never does anything but point out his glorious plan, while the work is done by his doctors-turned-henchmen. In the end he can't control his own "Water-Cyborgs" (bad looking rip-off's from the Creature from the Black Lagoon) and makes a run for it. Of course he is stopped by Chiba's hero, but only after Mr. Villain fails to shoot him at point blank range.
One thing I found quiet amusing was the shrieking and whining of Peggy Neal's Jenny, who is so occupied with her looks (they get a little bit mutated themselves), that if she survives the movie, she will surely commit suicide when she gets some wrinkles from age.
Generally, what is this thing with the mutations anyway? The "stop-motion" scenes with some other guy being transformed into a hideous Water-Cyborg (means looking ridiculous and being controlled by a Work/Fight/Stop dial in the villain's HQ) looks like they did put butter or curd onto the poor guy to simulate a "mutated skin". Then they went into an aliment-frenzy and threw all other stuff onto him all which looks like some sort of milk produce. At last they put on some chips (posing as scales) and, hey, here's your average fish soldier.
There are also some guys from the US Navy, who are first reluctant to do anything, then see their wrongs and are over-anxious to to something and then come up with doing nothing more than blasting the villain's underwater city to kingdom come. They by the way overact so completely, and are so badly dubbed that it hurts but, as I said, they don't do much for the sake of the narrative.
Overall, what could have been a standard Sci-Fi fun flick with some silly fun is sadly completely sub-standard and just rolls along rather drowsy. And the ending scene is so completely terrible "a little laugh at the end" stuff with yet another attempt to break the sonic barrier of cheesiness that you are really happy that this has finally dragged itself to it's end.
Stay with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" or "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" if you want some underwater monsters with style.
While this movie has all the elements that make old sci-fi movies suck,it somehow doesn't suck. The creature from the black lagoon has been cloned and is now in Japan,so of course two reporters must investigate.They immediately go scuba diving because what is a movie without scuba diving?I swear I can't remember the last time I saw a movie without scuba diving.Of course one of the reporters is a woman and wouldn't you know it...she sees the monster first.Two times when the camera cuts to him it's extremely clear that he's not underwater.As the woman swims away they superimpose the monster over her.Not content with nearly being killed, they must investigate further.That's when they discover that a guy has figured out how to transform humans into any form he wants.He explains how but then they just put what looks like a few human organs sewn together into a guy and the transformation begins.It's long,tedious and boring and the woman gasps constantly at the extremely slow process.At one point the guy even gets tiger feet before becoming a CFTBL clone. Did I mention that this guy has made a whole army of these things? And that he calls them cyborgs even though they have nothing robotic about them?And that he controls the entire army with a big knob that has settings like "work" and "fight"?And when he needs them all to stop he has to make a pa announcement so the guy standing next to him can turn the knob. I'm sure I didn't mention that he looks like Kevin Spacey in sunglasses.How do I even know who that is?? You would think that one of the monsters having his armpit "skin" ripped open would be the funniest thing in the movie but you'd be wrong.The funniest, and therefore best part of the movie, is all the underwater fire.What?I didn't mention that most of the movie takes place under water?Or that this guy has built his own Epcot center in the ocean? Doesn't matter. All that matters is this movie has more underwater fire than you will see everywhere else for as long as you live.
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